The realignment of 19.8 km of the Mumbai-Pune Expressway will cost Rs.4,798 crore and involve the acquisition of 266 acres. This is up from the 2015-16 estimate of Rs.3,314 crore. The new alignment will allow motorists to drive at 100 kmph and save 20 minutes of travel time between Mumbai and Pune.
R Mopalwar, vice-president of Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation, which is executing the project, said of the 266 acres to be acquired, 106 was private land owned by farmers. Another 160 acres is owned by the government and is forest land. The cost of acquisition is estimated at Rs.1,484 crore. Mopalwar said acquisition of forest land was at an advanced stage.
The state urban development department last week issued a notification permitting the acquisition. “Since the section, that is being sought to be straightened, passes through Lonavla municipal limits, the state urban development department's approval was necessary,“ said an official.
In the proposal, MSRDC said the expressway and Mumbai-Pune National Highway 48 merge at the Khalapur toll plaza, and they divert at the Khopoli exit. “This six-lane section receives traffic of 10 lanes, and as this is the ghat section, there are frequent landslides during the monsoon. Hence, a lane going towards Mumbai is closed during the monsoon.
In this section, speed is reduced, and often motorists, to make up for lost time, after crossing this stretch begin to speed, resulting in accidents.
The proposal is to build a 12 km “missing link“ between Khopoli and Kusgaon (Sinhgad Institute, Pune) spread over eight lanes. Further, the cabinet also approved the widening of the expressway to eight lanes between the Khalapur food mall and the Khopoli interchange.
The completion of the two projects will result in a saving of 20 minutes, and motorists can travel at a speed of 100 kmph, as against the present 80kmph today, the proposal stated.
The two underground tunnels of four lanes each will be constructed for a length of 1.66 km and 8.89 km respectively. This is the first time such tunnels will be built in India.